This week, The Nation and TheNation.com commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire–an unspeakable tragedy that took the lives of 146 young garment workers—mostly young, Italian and Jewish women—in New York City’s Greenwich Village. One hundred years ago this Friday, we remember its far-reaching impact on the necessary role of unions, the rights of workers and sweeping reform that followed.
In “Remembering the Triangle Fire,” dean of New York labor history Joshua Freeman reminds us that the tragedy catalyzed change unseen in U.S. history; it brought the plight of factory-workers into the national spotlight, galvanized action that by 1919 led to 1 in 5 workers going on strike, and intensified momentum for both state and national legislation. "By 2001," adds Freeman, "the number of deaths from workplace accidents had fallen to fewer than half those at the time the Occupational Safety and Health Act was passed and just a fraction of the toll at the time of Triangle."
Lessons learned from the ashes of the Triangle Fire in the decades that followed must be learned again, writes AFL-CIO’s Tula Connell this week in “The Triangle Fire: Still Burning Before Our Nation.” Connell is right to remind us about the seemingly never-ending cycle of tragic mining accidents, the “shadow-economy” of immigrant labor, Wisconsin and states across the country where the right to form a union is under siege.
Also this week…
SLIDEHSOW: Milestones in Labor History
The Nation’s long and rich history of covering America’s labor battles and milestones is on display Friday, in a moving slideshow of images and articles from the archive. From the 1886 Haymarket Square Riots in Chicago to children working in Georgia’s cotton mills in 1909, on through the protests in Wisconsin, Friday’s slideshow is a must see.
EDITORIAL: The Cost of Libyan Intervention
In this week’s issue, the Editors, in "The Libya Intervention," offer a cautionary note on the costs of military action in Libya. Described as a "war of choice" undertaken without Congressional authorization, military action of any kind in the name of humanitarian intervention is bound to have messy and unintended consequences. Dilemmas abound. Be sure to listen to colleague Roane Carey on BBC’s Newshour and read this week’s editorial here.